Paul Ewing admits he sometimes feels like the orange boy playing with the All Blacks.
The superstock rookie - he made his debut at the Tahuna Beach Holiday Park Speedway at the fag end of last season - joined a class dominated by national champions, South Island champions, teams race champions . . . it's like a speedway who's who in there.
But Ewing has been the big improver this year, finishing in the top 10 at the South Island champs near Christchurch, rolling a rival car for the first time and putting together consistently quick laps as he learns on the job.
The 42-year-old business owner at Ewing Poultry in Hope had no history in motorsport when he bought the superstock from a Taranaki driver earlier this year.
Son Luke was part of the youth ministock class in Nelson and Ewing decided he wanted to experience some of Luke's enjoyment.
He initially considered stockcars before taking the leap to superstocks.
"It's the noise they make that ramps me up," he said.
The car was bought on a budget and still runs a stock standard Toyota V8, but Ewing has been able to turn some competitive laps after he received sound advice from some of his class competitors.
"Nick [Fowler] was great. We called the crew together one night and he went through the setup on the shocks and springs," Ewing said. "I thought I had a good car, but Nick and Craig [Boote], all the guys in the class, were willing to give us some help and guidance to make the package work better with the gear I have."
With two family cars in action on most Nelson race nights, Ewing is also indebted to his crew: Barry Hefford, Mark Jensen, Grant Kerr and Dion Motley.
"It can get a bit hectic. Luckily, I haven't wrecked too much gear all at once."
Ewing will line up in the Nelson superstock club championships at the Richmond raceway from 7pm tomorrow, carrying a little more confidence after his showing at the South Island championships last month.
He put together three solid races and managed to drill Canterbury driver Noel Inns to the wall in race two, rolling the 94C car.
"Noel had punched me up the wall in turn three and it was as close as I had been to going over," Ewing said. "The red mist came down and, when he left the door open in turn two, I was in there.
"In hindsight, I should have waited and picked my moment, but he was out wide and the big dirt berm turned what probably should have been a good tap and spin into a roll."
Ewing has entered the New Zealand Home Loans NZ superstock championships in Nelson on January 11 and 12 and will tow south for the NZGP at Woodford Glen in Kaiapoi a week later.
While the "Eggsterminator" is likely to find the field a little fierce at those events, he is itching to be involved.
"I've taken the attitude that, once the gate closes, you can't get out. There's a concrete wall all around you, so you might as well keep going until the red lights come on," Ewing said.
"I took a bit of confidence from Christchurch [South Island championships] and I'm starting to lose my fear of the big-name guys."
Tomorrow's meeting, the Cycle Shop Xmas Extravaganza, is the last before the NZ superstocks, and also features the club's sidecar championships and the second round of the three-quarter midget championships.
- © Fairfax NZ News